Make your own, grow your own – part 2

Hi everyone,

I am back with part two of this mini series (sounds serious 🙂 ).

I am not a great gardener. I don’t know much about growing veg and fruits, but I decided that I would educate myself on this topic and give this a go.

So I went to the local library a few times and gathered some books on growing vegetables, fruits and herbs. It took a few trials by the time I found a book that suited me and the way I needed information.  I chose this book and kept renewing my loan till I decided it was time to own the book. I could not find it second hand, so I ordered a new one. It is called: The organic Vegetable Gardener by Yvonne Cuthbertson.

The Organic Vegetable Gardener

And then we had a plan of how we want to organise our little garden to fit all of the plants we wanted to grow.

The approach I wanted to take is to grow fruit and veg that doesn’t come without packaging. Here’s a list of what we grow and my plan with each fruit/veg:

Peas: I like peas in moderation. They come in plastic bags from the frozen sections, so we stopped buying them. I hope to grow a few kgs of peas that can be frozen in small batches, and used for cooking throughout the year. (I dont like peas in those jars, they just look so sad in there)

Spinach: Spinach can be easily frozen in batches too.

Salad leaves: I learnt quite a few things about salads as a type of dish lately. Before when I thought of salad I imagine a bowl of green leaves, tomatoes, pepper, cucumber etc… Salad leaves do not come without packaging (plastic wrap) unfortunately. The only thing we can do about this is to grow our own, but in the winter it is not possible. Then comes the idea of winter salads into the picture. Even though I knew you could make salad using cabbage, beetroots, carrots, celeriac and apples, I never really ventured so far to try them. Until now. And they are tasty, very tasty. I have dedicated a planter with a lid for growing Italian salad mix during the summer and in the winter we will eat more winter salads.

Berries: They almost always come in a plastic clamshell type box. We planted the following bushes: red currant, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries. And 24 strawberry plants. We will see how much we can grow.  Apparently the black and blueberries grow quite big, so that will add a bit more green to our garden.

Herbs: I love using herbs and even though we have pretty wide variety of dried herbs, I would like to grow a few that I can use fresh such as thyme, oregano, rosemary. I have sowed lots of basil seeds in two trays, that were later transferred into bigger pots. Now we have approximately 20 pots of basil in our windows. That is a lot, but I am growing these to make homemade pesto. We really like a pesto bread recipe, but not so keen on the pesto that you buy in a jar. So grow your own and make your own.

At the back of the garden I planted one elderflower bush. I am not convinced that it has started to grow roots, but we will see. I love elderflower cordial, so hopefully in a few years time we can harvest our own flowers. Until then foraging is the solution.

Sadly we don’t have a pantry and my kitchen cupboard house lots of things, so I needed to find a corner in the house to make a pantry cupboard for the elderflower cordial  and some other preserved foods that I am going to make in the canning season. (most of them will be some sort of tomato product: pizza-pasta sauce etc..)

Isn’t that pretty?

InstagramCapture_d590c575-97fa-4d13-ba5d-0e2fe74b3403

Just a few more pictures here that I want to share:

Three raised beds and a few pots.

WP_20160514_13_34_42_Pro

We also put two panels of picket fence in place. The reason for this: there was as steep slope at the back of the garden that we have filled up, but it is still not that great. So to visually break this we put two panels of picket fence. Now it looks like that we have a back garden in our garden. And we could hang more pots for strawberries.

WP_20160515_17_54_03_Pro

Blue is the dominant color in the garden. It is very cheerful and vibrant, especially when the sun comes out.

I am thinking about writing a summary of my zero waste (almost) shopping here in Swords, Ireland, where we live. I few people have asked if I had a list where to go, so I am going to write about this. It is going to be a repetition of what I have posted earlier in separate posts, but maybe it is going to be more useful for someone who just started this journey.

Make your own and grow your own part 1

There are things in life that we all like/love but they don’t usually come without packaging or in recyclable packaging (but you know recycling is not the solution).

One of these things is Nutella. There is a few problems with it: 1. full of sugar, 2. contains palm oil, 3. the packaging.

So we decided to make our own. I found a great recipe from the Minimalist Baker. Then I needed to find hazelnuts in bulk or without packaging. That was a bit of a quest but finally I managed to get in touch with a company that sells nuts in bulk. They are called Nuts in Bulk. The owner of the business was kind enough to let me visit them at their business site and fill my jars with nuts.

InstagramCapture_e40771ef-b783-425f-adeb-27482679bf10

I bought a whole lot of hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, papaya, pistachios, and quinoa.

Then I needed  a strong food processor. The one we had was at the end of it’s life and I was lucky to find some hidden money in a dvd case in the house so went out and got a nice food processor.

It is a Kenwood brand, the mill and the blender jugs are glass, the buttons are stainless steel, so a little bit less plastic than usual. I was happy to notice that there was no styrofoam in the box, and the shop kept all the packaging and sent to recycling. I also got 4 year warranty with it, hopefully we won’t need it.

InstagramCapture_56f126c1-bfbe-41e5-8038-b121f2f664d1

The homemade nutella was very easy to make and it is delicious. Not as sweet as the original, but I guess you can add something to sweeten it up if needed.

The other thing that we love but cannot buy without packaging is biscuits. But thankfully Jamie Oliver posted about this great digestive biscuit recipe on his page. We tried it and they were very tasty. I like to bake something once a week, so I will keep this in our “repertoire”.

InstagramCapture_74e50341-a521-4cee-9fa8-1cb9d20d2e81

I made them into matryoshka doll shapes just to make the look pretty.

We still make our own ricotta/cottage cheese. It goes faster now that I know how to make it. Practice makes….

InstagramCapture_cbf23d27-4ad4-4311-8737-9620ed0a7be1

And torilla…we love a good mexican cuisine inspired dish and tortilla is an essential part of most mexican dishes.

I used this recipe. It was easy and really nice. The only thing I didn’t really like that they weren’t that nice anymore the next day. We ate them regardless, but this means that it’s better to make so much that we can eat the same day.

InstagramCapture_84d32a93-31cb-4579-a8dd-ced746afd3a1

Next time I going to write about our garden and what we are growing…